Editor’s note: This is the fifth and final story in a series on the college admissions process based on a talk Brookfield Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame inductee Brian Noble Jones gave to high school students on Sept. 20. The previous four stories can be found elsewhere on this website, newsonthegreen.com
Brian Noble Jones offered college class choice advice to high school students, advice that he said he wished someone had given to him when he was still in high school: take statistics and a foreign language all through college.
Statistics is important, “even if you don’t consider yourself a math person, you’re not interested in finance,” Jones said. “Every job I’ve ever had, from running a restaurant to working on Wall Street” required the use of statistics, he said.
“I was an English major at Kenyon (College),” Jones said. “My first four years out of Kenyon, I worked on Wall Street in credit risk and then market risk management. I needed stats from day one, and I had to teach myself all of that. Now, in my profession as an associate dean, I use stats every single day, and I need to know that really well. If you want to separate yourself from the crowd, have that on your resume, down cold.”
Gear your foreign language choice to your potential career choice, he said.
“I took French here for all four years,” Jones said. “It was great. I used it zero as a profession. If I could go back in time, I would have taken Spanish for all four years, and I then would have continued it in college because, in my travels as a professional, now, I am often called upon to speak and present in Spanish, and I don’t have that as a skill set. I’m not saying it has to be Spanish but, with the change in demography of our country, it’s an incredibly invaluable language to learn, if you’re considering a career in government or political science.”
French has its place in other professional situations, and Mandarin Chinese and Russian also can be important, he said.
Just as with statistics, proficiency in a foreign language will help “distinguish yourself down the road,” Jones said.